McGladdery: Police witnesses

Police evidence concerning the tailing (and frequent interviewing) of McGladdery over the days and weeks following Pearl Gamble’s death continued to be given.

Constable Thom testified that on Sunday January 29th he had a conversation with the defendant before an electric fire sitting in the Head Constable’s office of Newry Police Station. In further explanation he stated that the previous day he had been at Upper Damolly with Head Constable O’Hara where Robert McCullough (the man who first raised the alarm the previous morning when he discovered torn and discarded clothing in the vicinity) pointed out to them a bicycle lying in a field on the Belfast Road side of the Damolly Crossroads – where Damolly and Upper Damolly Roads meet and just yards from the Gamble home. The bicycle was taken possession of by Sergeant John Berry for expert examination of it. When found the lighting switch of the dynamo was in the off position.

It was to be many months later before all the evidence came together at McGladdery’s trial. The defendant alleged that he left the dance near its end at about 1.50 am and it was evident to all that he could not have walked to Damolly cross-roads in time to intercept the victim who got a lift in a car and probably arrived there very shortly after 2 am. He alleged that he saw Pearl get into a car ‘with two boys’ but no other witness testified to seeing him there and then.

The probable answer was that he stole a bicycle and sped to the interception point as fast as he could. It could be cycled in about fifteen minutes.

Sergeant Gibson gave evidence of several timed journeys by bicycle and on foot from the Orange Hall (on Downshire Road) to both McGladdery’s home (Damolly Terrace) and Upper Damolly crossroads (these destinations being about a kilometre apart as the crow flies but further via the Belfast Road and the Rathfriland Roads respectively).

He found it took 8 minutes 10 seconds to cycle to McGladdery’s home: just over 20 minutes to Damolly crossroads by the longer Belfast Road route; and 15 minutes 40 seconds via Church Avenue and Rathfriland Road; using Windsor Avenue it could be done in 15 minutes. Walking times for the comparable routes were 14 minutes odd to McGladdery’s home; 44 minutes via Belfast Road to Damolly crossroads; and 30 minutes and 27 minutes 35 seconds for the latter-named routes.

There was contradictory evidence. Joseph Clydesdale apprentice motor mechanic of Ashgrove Newry testified that he arrived at the dance at the Orange Hall about 12.30 am. He saw Pearl Gamble whom he knew and he danced with her.

‘I danced the last dance with Pearl Gamble and walked down to the entrance of the Orange Hall with her. We walked about 15 yards up Church Avenue and stood on the Grammar School side of it. We stood there about fifteen minutes and a car arrived from the Belfast Road and stopped opposite us. Pearl got into the car and I walked back to the Orange Hall. I did not see her since she got into the car. I collected my bicycle and went out the Belfast Road home.’

…….. more later …………

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